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Compensate Railways for loss in 2011 stir, SC tells Haryana

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Team set up to ensure return of families that fled Mirchpur

New Delhi, July 24
The Supreme Court today directed the Haryana’s Claims Commissioner to pass an order within four weeks on the Railways’ claim for a compensation of about Rs 34 crore for the loss suffered during a ‘rail roko’ stir at Jind for 11 days from January 15-26 in the year 2011.

A Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and Gopala Gowda asked the Railways to submit its claim within four weeks and the Claims Commissioner, retired District and Sessions Judge RC Bansal, to consider it and pass an order within four weeks thereafter.

The Bench passed the order after hearing arguments on a PIL filed by some victims of the anti-Dalit violence that took place at Mirchpur village in Hisar district on April 21, 2010.

Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, who appeared for the petitioners, contended that the ‘rail roko’ agitation had been launched to demand the release of about 100 accused persons who had been prosecuted for the violence. This was disputed by Additional Advocate General (AAG) Manjit Singh Dalal, who said it was part of a larger agitation by the Jat community in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh seeking job quota.

According to the Railways, it suffered a loss of Rs 33.95 crore due to the agitation in Haryana. Of this, Rs 32 crore was accounted for by freight earning and about Rs 1.83 crore by passenger earning. The haulage loss was assessed at Rs 5.15 lakh and the damage to railway property at Rs 7.23 lakh.

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Explore bringing back dalit victims to Mirchpur: Supreme Court

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked legal experts and social scientists to explore the possibilities if Dalit victims of Mirchpur Village violence in Haryana could be brought back and resettled in their native place.

The court's observation followed the state government's statement that it would provide food grain and employment to the Dalit victims from Hisar district.

An apex court bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice V Gopala Gowda asked the president of the Hisar District Legal Aid Committee and representatives of Tata Institute of Social Sciences to explored the possibilities if the displaced victims could be brought back to the village or suggest other alternative options.

"We consider appropriate to request the Hisar Legal Aid Committee and the nominee of the director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences to conduct joint inspection with the assistance of other officers of the district to suggest available solutions," the court said.

Dalit settlements were targeted and torched by the members of dominant case April 21, 2010 in which a 70-year-old man his 18-year-old physically challenged daughter were killed.

The court's order to explore the possibilities of bringing back the displaced Dalits came after Haryana's Additional Advocate General Manjit Singh Dalal told the court that "resettling them outside Mirchpur was not possible".

The court said that those members of the victim families who need employment should approach the competent authority for employment under the rural job scheme.

"They are not coming" as they had found employment, Dalal told the court.

As senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for victim petitioners, told the court that they were scared of going back to their village fearing a backlash, the court said that things will change only with awareness and change of mindset.

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SOWL holds 2nd Annual Conference on 'Law, Social Change and Gender'

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The India International Centre, hosted SOWL India’s 2nd Annual Conference themed “Law, Social Change and Gender” which brought together prominent lawyers, academics and policy-makers. The violent sexual assault perpetrated on a student last year in Delhi which served as stimulus for appointment of the Verma Committee and the legislative amendments thereafter along with a slew of ‘women-centric’ initiatives, formed the theme of this year’s conference. SOWL India brought together various voices that are influencing law and policy pertaining to violence against women, as part of its 2013 Annual Conference.

The event commenced with a keynote address by Retd. Justice Leila Seth who reminisced about the challenges she faced as one of two lady lawyers in the Patna High Court. Her anecdotes drove home the misogyny that those of her ilk had faced and overcome for it to be smooth sailing for us thereafter. She talked about her experiences as a member of the Verma Committee and underscored her disappointment with the piecemeal amendments of the criminal law. She remarked that change was always incremental and although an 80 year old (Late Justice Verma) and an 82 year old (herself) had believed along with the solitary ‘young man’ on the Committee (Mr. Gopal Subramaniam) that it was time to outlaw marital rape, our law makers didn’t think it was time.

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Supreme court asks NGOs to suggest methods to strengthen clinical trial laws

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The Supreme Court Friday asked the central government to discuss with states all facets of a legal framework to regulate and monitor clinical trials of new drugs by foreign firms across India. A bench of Justice R.M.Lodha and Justice Madan B. Lokur also asked petitioner Swasthya Adhikar Manch, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), NGOs and other organisations to submit their suggestions for strengthening the legal regime to regulate clinical trials so as to minimise the harm to the patients upon whom the new drugs were being tested.

The court asked the union health secretary to call a meeting of the chief secretaries/health secretaries of the states and union territories and report to it on the outcome as it directed the next hearing Sep 24. The court’s order came on a public interest litigation by Swasthya Adhikar Manch of Indore and others who sought a halt to ‘unethical’ clinical trials by multinational drug companies of their new products in India and treating of Indian patients as guinea pigs.

Complimenting the NGO and others for focusing on the issue, Justice Lodha said: ‘Your efforts have brought some changes. They (government) have become conscious of difficulties or the problems people are facing.’ Noting that the central govenment has taken some measures to strengthen the mechanism to regulate the clinical trials, the court said: ‘What we are interested in is that what has happened in the past should not get repeated. Arrest the recurrence of death and side effects because of clinical trials.’

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Gas pricing: SC to examine policy, issues notices to Centre, RIL

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New Delhi: Government's controversial decision to raise the price of natural gas reached the Supreme Court which today agreed to examine the matter.

Taking up a PIL filed by CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta, the court issued notices to the Centre, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and the Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moiley.

The bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that the issue raised by the senior MP needs examination and the petition cannot be rejected at the initial stage.

The apex court also sought response from BP Exploration (Alpha) Limited, NIKO Resources Ltd and Ministry for Petroleum & Natural Gas on a PIL filed by CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta who alleged that no due diligence was done by the government while increasing the price of natural gas.

The court directed the parties to file their response within four weeks and posted the matter for further hearing to September 6.

The MP pleaded for a slew of directions including review of Centre's decision to increase the price of natural gas from USD 4.2 per million British thermal unit (mbtu) to USD 8.4 mbtu from April 1, 2014.

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